Oregon cheesemakers received 20 awards, including seven first place recognitions at the American Cheese Society's Annual Cheese Competition last week.
The contest took place during the society's 30th annual conference, "In a Dairy State of Mind" held July 31- August 4 in Madison, Wisc.
Award winning cheesemakers included: Ancient Heritage Dairy, Briar Rose Creamery, Face Rock Creamery, Ochoa's Queseria, Quail Run Creamery, Rivers Edge Chevre, Rogue Creamery, Tillamook County Creamery Association and Willamette Valley Cheese.
It was no small task for the team of 37 judges including food science professors, cheese mongers, retail cheese managers, and cheese experts. They smelled, felt, tasted, and analyzed 1,794 different products from 254 companies.
Oregon's cheesemakers are pretty special.
"They are passionate and always looking for ways to improve their cheeses," said Lisbeth Goddik, Oregon State University Extension Dairy Processing Specialist. "They pay close attention to details from animal welfare to the handling of cheeses during the affinage (fine art of ripening cheese) process."
Artisan cheese is a trend that is here to stay. More than 20 cheesemakers belong to the Oregon Cheese Guild, which started with only seven members back in 2006. Oregon is a true model for food culture and cheesemaking.
"The climate is ideal for assuring optimum milk quality, because dairy animals thrive in Oregon," said Goddik. "As a result Oregon continues to win a disproportionately large number of awards at both national and international cheese competitions."
Additional information about the American Cheese Society and its competition can be viewed at www.cheesesociety.org.
About the Oregon Cheese Guild:
Founded in 2006, the Oregon Cheese Guild is dedicated to the art and craft of making cheese. The Guild is a collaborative effort to help cheesemakers network, create educational opportunities and benefit from participating in economies of scale. The Guild is committed to growing its loyal base of artisan cheese lovers by educating consumers on high-quality handmade, farmstead and specialty cheeses. Membership is limited to farmstead, artisan and commercial cheesemakers. www.oregoncheeseguild.org.
About Oregon Dairy Products Commission:
Dairy Farmers of Oregon is a program of the Oregon Dairy Products Commission. The Commission works on behalf of Oregon's dairy farm families who, with the help of 123,000 dairy cows and Oregon dairy processors, provide award-winning cheeses, milk, butter, and an extensive line of premium ice cream, sour cream and yogurt. Milk is the official state beverage of Oregon, and Oregon is recognized nationwide as a leader for milk quality. The Oregon dairy industry is a community-conscious, caring business that contributes nearly $1 billion to Oregon's economic well-being each year. Oregon dairymen and women care about their cows, their communities, and the land, air and water of Oregon. www.dairyfarmersor.com. The Commission also provides nutrition education through its program of the Oregon Dairy Council. www.oregondairycouncil.org